OSU junior midfielder Johnny Pearson (30) during a game on March 19 in Denver. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

OSU junior midfielder Johnny Pearson (30) during a game on March 19 in Denver. Credit: Courtesy of OSU

The Ohio State men’s lacrosse team is looking to end its three-game losing skid Saturday when it’s set to face second-ranked Notre Dame at Ohio Stadium.

The matchup against the Fighting Irish serves as the coda to a grueling four-game nonconference stretch for the Buckeyes in which they faced three other teams in the nation’s top 20, including No. 1 Denver last Saturday.

“I think the biggest thing is just staying the course,” said senior midfielder and co-captain Kacy Kapinos. “In these tough times we have to come together, and as a unit we have to work harder.”

Redshirt junior goalie Tom Carey said the team does not have to make any major changes. Instead, the Buckeyes need to just work on the little things.

“Collectively as a group, we’re just focusing on getting back to the basics and working out the little kinks,” he said. “That starts with just coming out every practice with energy and just having a little bit more of an edge. We know we’re not too far off.”

OSU has dropped 12 straight to Notre Dame, with its last win coming in 2004. Senior defender Robby Haus said the team is looking forward to the opportunity to end both losing streaks on Saturday.

“In my career here, I haven’t beaten them,” he said. “That does give you a little bit more of a push when the game starts to have that drive to take them down.”

To do so, the Scarlet and Gray will need more offensive output than was provided last year when the Buckeyes were shut out 9-0. Kapinos said the offense has been working hard to create more scoring opportunities, which will be needed against a Notre Dame defense that is tied for first in the nation, allowing only 6.33 goals per contest.

“(The offense) has been working all week — working hard, cycling the ball, moving very quickly,” Kapinos said. “Coach (Brad) Ross has done a great job … of preparing them and getting them ready, and I know he’ll have them ready for this week.”

Notre Dame boasts three preseason first-team All-Americans in senior attacker Matt Kavanagh, junior midfielder Sergio Perkovic and senior defender Matt Landis. However, OSU coach Nick Myers said the team is ready to play against a tough opponent despite its recent losses.

“They’re an excellent team, arguably one of the best teams in the country at home,” Myers said. “We’re excited about the opportunity to compete against a quality opponent.”  

Correcting errors on defense

OSU is looking to bounce back after suffering a 15-6 defeat against Denver last Saturday.

The Buckeyes were only down 7-5 heading into the fourth quarter, but they surrendered eight goals while only scoring one to lead to the lopsided loss.

Myers attributed the defensive meltdown to a combinations of factors, including fatigue and excellent offense by Denver.

“At the end of the day, you have to make stops,” he said.

Kapinos emphasized the need to play the full 60 minutes.

“I think we just (have) to play the whole game,” he said. “We did well the first three quarters, and in the fourth quarter we kind of had a lapse.”

The Buckeye defense will have to be strong in the fourth quarter on Saturday. The Fighting Irish have scored 20 goals in the final period this season, five more than any other quarter, meaning a second consecutive final-period meltdown could spell trouble for OSU.

What’s next

The Buckeyes are primed to begin conference play on April 3 against Penn State at noon.

Kapinos said the team is looking forward to facing familiar opponents.

“The Big Ten is very exciting, a bunch of rivalry games. We have friends on those teams,” Kapinos said. “We played a couple of those teams two or three times last year… so we kind of know what each other has.”

Myers, however, didn’t want to get too far ahead, stressing the importance to focus on Saturday’s game against Notre Dame.

“When the time comes to shift gears and focus on that part of our season, we will,” he said.

The matchup against the Fighting Irish is set to begin at 1 p.m.